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Maharashtra: Uncertainty over crop insurance in Beed, Jalna districts

With its low premium and substantial cover for losses, PMFBY has been popular with farmers, who look at it to cover their losses in case of crop loss due to extreme weather events.

Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas, Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai, Pune |
June 13, 2020 10:45:50 pm
punjab news, nirmala sitharaman agriculture, sitharaman agriculture reforms, Marathwada and Vidarbha are the major oilseed and pulses growing regions of the state.

Farmers in Beed and Jalna districts of Maharashtra might find it difficult to insure their crops for the upcoming kharif season. Officials from the state agriculture department said both districts have received insufficient bids from companies to implement the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), thus putting a question mark over the scheme in these districts.

With its low premium and substantial cover for losses, PMFBY has been popular with farmers, who look at it to cover their losses in case of crop loss due to extreme weather events. Farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. The scheme has been particularly popular among the farmers in these regions who have reported losses due to drought or unseasonal rains in the last few years. Last kharif, insurance companies had paid over Rs 6,000 crore to farmers who had lost their crop in the unseasonal rains.

The state is divided into six clusters for implementation of the scheme and insurance companies are invited for the bidding process. In case a particular district fails to attract bids, tenders are floated again with extensions given each time for companies to respond. Last rabi season, 10 districts – including Beed and Solapur – had failed to attract any bidders and the scheme could not be implemented in those districts.

Kharif is the state’s major agricultural season with over 1.5 crore hectares utilised for crops like soyabean (around 41 lakh hectares), cotton (42 lakh), tur (12 lakh). Marathwada and Vidarbha are the major oilseed and pulses growing regions of the state. However, these regions are vulnerable to unseasonal rains and drought, which have seen farmers face crop losses.

In case of Beed, not a single company had expressed interest in the bidding for the implementation of the scheme, while in Jalna, the state agriculture department has gone for two re-tendering and one extension to ensure companies file bids. Over the last few years, PMFBY has been facing increasing headwinds as companies are wary of higher payment in case of the crop loss. Also, political interference, which forces many insurance companies to pay out, is also seen as a dampener for companies to participate in the scheme.

In case no company takes part in the bidding process for the scheme, the state government is forced to take money from its Disaster Relief Fund to pay farmers in case of crop loss due to extreme weather events.

However, many farmers are unaware of the current problem of insufficient bids from insurance companies. Krishna Khedkar, a farmer in Beed’s Georai, said large number of farmers were yet to start sowing, after which they normally pay the insurance premium. Machhindra Gawade of the Shetkari Sanghatana from Georai said farmers were in for a shock. “The insurance scheme is fraud. People from neighboring villages sometimes don’t get the payouts. Some crops are left out some years without any logic. Now, the few thousand rupees that farmers could hope to get in case of a failed crop will also be denied to them. Wasn’t this meant to be a right for all farmers?” Gawade said.

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